Source: Vientiane Times
Over 5,500 people have bought tickets to travel on the Laos-China railway in the first five days since passenger services were offered starting on December 4.
Train travel is proving to be a popular alternative to travel by bus or plane and a large number of people have decided to experience a journey on the new train as it passes rapidly through the countryside on an elevated track.
The manager of Vientiane Capital station, Ms Zhu Ying Hong, said “A total of 5,512 Lao people and foreign nationals have used the train in the first five days and many more are continuing to make use of our services.”
Last weekend, the train station in Vientiane was packed with crowds of people who stood in long queues to buy tickets.
Providing 720 seats in total, the EMU CR200J train offers domestic passenger services twice daily, with round trips from Vientiane to Luang Prabang province and Boten on the Laos-China border. Trains can travel at a top speed of 160 kilometres per hour.
Journeys are currently limited to certain destinations within Laos because of the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak and associated travel restrictions.
Once borders between Laos and neighbouring countries reopen, tourism is set to boom in areas of Laos through which the railway passes.
The Laos-China Railway Company Limited also runs two freight trips each day.
Economists believe the US$5.9-billion China railway will become an important route for trade and tourism exchange between China and countries in Southeast Asia.
The first freight train loaded with rubber and other goods from Laos arrived in Kunming in China’s Yunnan province on December 5 after travelling 1,035 kilometres.
The rubber shipment was valued at 10 million yuan (17.18 billion kip). Rubber is one of the main agricultural products exported from Laos to China.
It takes only 30 hours for a freight train to travel from Vientiane to Kunming, enabling businesses to save a huge amount of time and significantly cut costs.
Meanwhile the first freight train from China arrived in Vientiane on Saturday, fully loaded with dicalcium phosphate, a food additive.
Freight bound for China from the Vientiane South station amounts to more than 100,000 tonnes while shipment orders from China to Laos are also high, comprising mainly fertiliser, chemicals, and mechanical and electrical products, according to Xinhua.
China will also ship spare parts, electrical equipment, clothing and electronic equipment to Laos using the railway.
The Laos-China railway not only eases the transport of freight between China, Laos and other Asean countries but also cuts the cost of transport for exporters by 20-30 percent, the Paxaxon newspaper stated.